“Couples who have a great sex life everywhere on the planet are doing the same set of things.”
This is the conclusion of Dr. John Gottman co-founder of the Gottman Institute and author/co-author of 40 books, including the bestseller, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. His statement is based on the research of Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, and James Witte, who studied 70,000 people in 24 countries, and his own research with 3,000 couples over a span of four decades.
Here is Gottman’s list of the 13 things that couples with amazing sex lives do on a regular basis. Looking to improve sex and intimacy in your relationship? Try discussing this list with your partner and implementing these practices. You’ll likely discover improvement in not only your sex life, but in every aspect of your relationship. Do you know what else will probably increase? Your level of level of overall happiness!
1. They say “I love you” every day and mean it
Saying, “I love you” to your partner as part of a daily ritual before leaving for the day, or before ending a phone call, or before going to sleep at night, or for any reason at all, strengthens the relationship. It affirms your fondness and admiration as well as your commitment to each other. It also reinforces the system of valuing each other. When you cherish each other, you are looking for what your partner is doing right, rather than focusing on their shortcomings.
2. They kiss one another passionately for no reason
John M. Gottman is fond of suggesting couples give each other a six-second kiss before parting or at least once a day. He describes this as, “a kiss worth coming home to.” Try it out for yourself.
3. They give surprise romantic gifts
A surprise romantic gift needn’t be something related to sex, but it should signal that you were thinking of your partner in a good way and that his or her needs and happiness are important to you. Anything that makes your partner feel special, valued, or loved can be romantic.
4. They know what turns their partners on and off erotically
These couples have taken the time to discuss eroticism and are interested in learning how to please each other. Feeling shy? There’s an app for that! Download the Gottman Cards Deck App (it’s free) and go to the deck: Sex Questions to Ask a Man or Sex Questions to Ask a Woman. You’ll also discover card decks to help you improve many other aspects of your relationship.
5. They are physically affectionate, even in public
Here is an area in which Americans sometimes struggle. Touching, gently stroking, holding hands, are all ways to affirm your ever present caring, attraction, partnership, and love. When you limit your physical touch to the bedroom on the nights when you aren’t too exhausted to have intercourse, you're missing out on so many opportunities to physically connect. It also means that if things like illness or stress are getting in the way of your love-making, your emotional connection will likely suffer. This can leave room for negative emotions such as loneliness and resentment to creep in.
6. They keep playing and having fun together
Given the juggling act that many of us do to manage our demanding jobs and the needs of our partners, our children and/or our aging parents, it’s no surprise that playing and having fun may be left to the bottom of the priority list, if it even makes it to the list at all. Play, however, is a crucial component of healthy relationships and can be the antidote to stress, just as laughter can be the antidote to feeling overwhelmed. We play with those we love, so make sure to carve out time for some couple fun.
7. They cuddle
This builds on the need for physical closeness. Expressing love through touch even while watching a show, listening to music, or reading books on the sofa can work wonders for every aspect of a relationship.
8. They make sex a priority, not the last item of a long to-do list
Given how busy most of us are, if we wait until the right moment for sex to magically happen, we may find it missing from our lives all together. That’s why making sex a priority is so important. Sex needs to be viewed as a valuable means of maintaining a healthy relationship. It needs to be nurtured and, dare I say it, sometimes planned! Sex needn’t be spontaneous to be amazing.
9. They stay good friends
Friendship is the foundation of any sound relationship. Knowing each other’s dreams and feelings, showing caring, and creating a positive perspective in the relationship, all lead to feelings safety and emotional closeness, which sets the stage for.…you guessed it: passion, romance, and a great sex life!
10. They can talk comfortably about their sex life
Studies have shown that whether or not people are comfortable talking about sex varies from country to country. We in the U.S. tend to shy away from the subject. Coming up with rituals for initiating as well as gently refusing sex is necessary. If this has been a struggle for the two of you, go to www.Gottsex.com for a wide range of tools and exercises to facilitate sharing your feelings around sex and intimacy.
11. They take romantic vacations
Investing in couples only experiences can reignite the spark of passion and fan the flames of attraction. It also sends the message to your partner that they are important in your life. If you have children and both work full-time outside the home, try not to let guilt stand in your way. Having your kids spend a few days with grandparents or other family and friends can be healthy for everyone.
12. They have weekly dates
Investing time in each other on a regular basis can do wonders for relationships. It’s another way to affirm that you value each other. These dates needn’t be expensive, but they should be exclusive: just the two of you.
13. They are mindful about turning toward
John Gottman defines turning toward as responding positively to your partners “bids” or attempts at connection. A bid for connection can be anything from a conversation starter, to a gentle touch or suggestion of an activity. If you ignore your partner’s bid, then you are turning away, if you dismiss the bid using criticism or contempt, then you are turning against. Only turning toward, by responding with interest or curiosity, brings you two closer and improves your sex life.
Here’s to creating an amazing sex life with your partner—enjoy!